A second-half strike from Dean Moxey was all that separated the two sides at The People’s Pension Stadium as Exeter City overcame Crawley Town 1-0 on Saturday.
Exeter City manager Matt Taylor made three changes to the side that overcame Cambridge United in the FA Cup on Tuesday night, with Nigel Atangana, Jack Sparkes and Ryan Bowman starting in place of Alex Fisher, Craig Woodman and Matt Jay.
City started brightly, and Lee Martin did well to create a yard of space after just two minutes in order to find a cross that was headed away by Crawley centre-back Tom Dallison just as Ryan Bowman looked to meet it inside the six-yard box. Crawley responded in kind, with Bez Lubala finding Ollie Palmer with his cross from the Crawley left, but the latter’s header flew wide of Jonny Maxted’s goal.
Nicky Law then fired a free-kick won by Archie Collins just over Glenn Morris’ goal from the edge of the box with 10 minutes on the clock as the Grecians pushed for an opener. City continued to threaten from set-pieces as Randell Williams’ free-kick on City’s right-hand side flew into a dangerous area and took a deflection right in front of the Crawley goalkeeper, but rolled wide.
City definitely had the best of the opening quarter of an hour and when Nigel Atangana knocked the ball back to Archie Collins following a corner, the academy graduate came within inches of putting City ahead with a rasping drive, but the midfielder’s effort was narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
Lee Martin was the next City man to go close as Jack Sparkes did well to feed a ball through to him despite being on the floor, and Martin’s powerfully struck effort cannoned off the crossbar and behind. The home side threatened on occasion – notably through Lubala on the Crawley left, whose cross-turned-shot on 29 minutes bounced just wide of Maxted’s left-hand post.
City had the best chance of the game to go ahead when Randell Williams found a superb pass into Nicky Law to play the City man in against Morris, but Law dallied on the ball, allowing Morris to close down the angle and to produce an important save. City then created another chance with a sweeping move cutting across the pitch to eventually find Jack Sparkes in space down the left wing, but his effort flew over the bar. It was a first half that City dominated in terms of chances, but couldn’t break the deadlock.
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